Is "Blank" a suitable neutral prime for event-related potential experiments?

Joseph Dien, Michael S. Franklin, Christopher J. May

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


We report an experiment that evaluates whether BLANK or an unrelated prime is a more suitable baseline for assessing priming for an ERP study. Sixteen subjects performed a lexical decision task with a 1 s prime-target stimulus onset asynchrony. Increased amplitude for the N400 was observed for targets in the unrelated prime condition whereas targets in the BLANK prime condition evoked activity that was more like that in the related prime condition. Theoretically, we conclude that the N400 reflects semantic integration. Pragmatically, we conclude that the BLANK prime is a better neutral prime but that unrelated primes yield stronger N400 effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-101
Number of pages11
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Expectancy
  • N400
  • Recognition potential
  • Semantic integration
  • Semantic priming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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